Election 2017: South Antrim’s David Ford among those facing tough fight

Antrim town centre
Antrim town centre

For a brief while during the election count last May, it looked as if Alliance leader David Ford could lose his seat.

In the event, he made it back to Stormont once transfer votes had been totted up.

But despite being helmsman of his party, and having held the prominent role of justice minister since 2010, his share of first preference votes fell to 8.9% – its lowest ebb since 2003, and well under the 14.2% he won in 2011.

Amid the drop in seat numbers due to the long-planned cut in the size of the Assembly, this slide in his fortunes may cause some nail-biting among officials in the party machine.

All six winners from 2016 are standing again – but at least one will now taste defeat.

The unionist-majority constituency has had one nationalist or republican MLA at any given time since 1998.

Sinn Fein has been the dominant such force since 2007, and it has performed so solidly in terms of first-preference votes that its chances of maintaining a grip on its sole seat look good.

Instead, if 2016’s results as set out below are anything to go by, it seems probable the ousted politician may be Mr Ford, or one of the less-well-performing unionists – namely long-standing DUP MLA Trevor Clarke, or UUP newcomer to the Assembly Steve Aiken MLA.

2017 candidates:

• Stephen Aiken (UUP)

• Ivanka Antova (People Before Profit)

• Eleanor Bailey (Greens)

• Richard William Cairns (TUV)

• Pam Cameron (DUP)

• Trevor Clarke (DUP)

• Adrian David Cochrane-Watson (UUP)

• David RJ Ford (Alliance)

• Paul Girvan (DUP)

• Declan Kearney (Sinn Fein)

• Mark Logan (Cons)

• Roisin Lynch (SDLP)

• David McMaster (Ind)

2016 results:

• Paul Girvan (DUP) 5,014 (14.3%)

• Declan Kearney (Sinn Féin) 4,632 (13.2%)

• Pam Cameron (DUP) 4,589 (13.1%)

• Trevor Clarke (DUP) 3,585 (10.2%)

• Roisin Lynch (SDLP) 3,366 (9.6%)

• Stephen Aiken (UUP) 3,280 (9.3%)

• David Ford (Alliance) 3,119 (8.9%)

• Paul Michael (UUP) 2,565 (7.3%)

• Adrian Cochrane-Watson (UUP) 1,947 (5.5%)

• Richard Cairns (TUV) 1,318 (3.8%)

• Helen Farley (Green) 589 (1.7%)

• Robert Hill (UKIP) 574 (1.6%)

• David McMaster (Independent) 483 (1.4%)

• Mark Young (Conservative) 72 (0.2%)

Electorate 69,680

Votes cast 35,544 (51%)